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The Bacteriological Detective
by [?]

We had read of his ward, too, the beautiful Miss Eveline Bisbee, a distant relation. As under the heat of the room and her excitement, she raised her veil, we were very much interested in her. At least, I am sure that even Kennedy had by this time completely forgotten the lecture on toxins.

“There is something about my guardian’s death,” she began in a low and tremulous voice, “that I am sure will bear investigating. It may be only a woman’s foolish fears, but–I haven’t told this to a soul till now, except Mrs. Fletcher. My guardian had, as you perhaps know, spent his summer at his country place at Bisbee Hall, New Jersey, from which he returned rather suddenly about a week ago. Our friends thought it merely a strange whim that he should return to the city before the summer was fairly over, but it was not. The day before he returned, his gardener fell sick of typhoid. That decided Mr. Bisbee to return to the city on the following day. Imagine his consternation to find his valet stricken the very next morning. Of course they motored to New York immediately, then he wired to me at Newport, and together we opened his apartment at the Louis Quinze.

“But that was not to be the end of it. One after another, the servants at Bisbee Hall were taken with the disease until five of them were down. Then came the last blow–Mr. Bisbee fell a victim in New York. So far I have been spared. But who knows how much longer it will last? I have been so frightened that I haven’t eaten a meal in the apartment since I came back. When I am hungry I simply steal out to a hotel–a different one every time. I never drink any water except that which I have surreptitiously boiled in my own room over a gas-stove. Disinfectants and germicides have been used by the gallon, and still I don’t feel safe. Even the health authorities don’t remove my fears. With my guardian’s death I had begun to feel that possibly it was over. But no. This morning another servant who came up from the hall last week was taken sick, and the doctor pronounces that typhoid, too. Will I be the next? Is it just a foolish fear? Why does it pursue us to New York? Why didn’t it stop at Bisbee Hall?”

I don’t think I ever saw a living creature more overcome by horror, by an invisible, deadly fear. That was why it was doubly horrible in a girl so attractive as Eveline Bisbee. As I listened I felt how terrible it must be to be pursued by such a fear. What must it be to be dogged by a disease as relentlessly as the typhoid had dogged her? If it had been some great, but visible, tangible peril how gladly I could have faced it merely for the smile of a woman like this. But it was a peril that only knowledge and patience could meet. Instinctively I turned toward Kennedy, my own mind being an absolute blank.

“Is there anyone you suspect of being the cause of such an epidemic?” he asked. “I may as well tell you right now that I have already formed two theories–one perfectly natural, the other diabolical. Tell me everything.”

“Well, I had expected to receive a fortune of one million dollars, free and clear, by his will and this morning I am informed by his lawyer, James Denny, that a new will had been made. It is still one million. But the remainder, instead of going to a number of charities in which he was known to be interested, goes to form a trust fund for the Bisbee School of Mechanical Arts, of which Mr. Denny is the sole trustee. Of course, I do not know much about my guardian’s interests while he was alive, but it strikes me as strange that he should have changed so radically, and, besides, the new will is so worded that if I die without children my million also goes to this school–location unnamed. I can’t help wondering about it all.”